By Amy L. Sloane Timbers
Affordable housing is always a topic of conversation in Rappahannock County. Lending guidelines are that if housing is more than 28 percent of a family income it is no longer affordable. “Housing” includes mortgage (or rent), taxes and insurance. Rappahannock’s median household income for 2015 was $57,210 while the state average was $65,015. Based on this, any home under $250,000 would be in the affordable category.
So how many homes were sold in Rappahannock in the last two years that were under $200,000? More than most would expect. In 2015 and 2016 there were a total of 161 properties sold. (All stats have been taken from the local multiple listing service to ensure arms-length sales and full market exposure.) Of those sales, 36 were under $200,000. In fact, six were under $100,000. The percent of homes sold under $200,000 was 23 percent.
Culpeper County, which is more like Rappahannock than our other neighbors, had 1411 sales. Of those, 372 were under $200,000 and of those 53 were under $100,000. This is 26 percent of the sales — just a bit more than Rappahannock but not much.
Let’s jump up in price range to $200,000 to $300,000, which is still in the affordable range (as I am not factoring in mortgage amounts, only sales price). Rappahannock had 37 sales and Culpeper 587, which is 23 percent for Rappahannock and 42 percent for Culpeper. But this does mean that over 40 percent of the homes sold in Rappahannock were under $300,000.
For listings in Rappahannock there are 74 homes listed ranging in price from $27,000 to $3,995,000. I’ll admit that the $27,000 “home” does need some work and would require either cash or a re-hab loan, which is typical for homes in that price range. Of the 74 listings, there are a total of 18 under $300,000 which is 24 percent while Culpeper is at almost 40 percent.
Keep in mind that that list price is almost always higher than the sales price — but not always — and seller subsidies are more common in lower priced properties.
If I were to use Madison County there would be more sales and a much higher percent of homes in the under $300,000 range at 78 percent. Fauquier, which ranges from Middleburg to Summerduck, had over 2000 sales was at 34 percent.
In using two years I hoped to get better statistical numbers. With so few homes sold in Rappahannock it doesn’t take much to change them, so using a longer time frame helps to reduce errors.
Most of the homes in the $100,000-$200,000 range in all counties are on small lots (under 3 acres) and older homes with only one bathroom. I see a greater need for senior housing than for affordable.
Note: I selected Culpeper as it is more “like” Rappahannock than Madison (for commuters and weekenders) and is further west (for commuters) than most of Fauquier. Plus Fauquier has other statistical issues — like being close to Fredericksburg/Centreville/Loudoun and then the Middleburg effect.
Amy L. Sloane Timbers, an associate real estate broker in Virginia, is with Washington Fine Properties in the town of Washington